#SaystheEditor: Writing Versus Editing


I sat down last night to write a post. It’d be my usual Says the Editor type of post, pithy and fun and the sort of thing that one of you would submit to the Passive Guy so I could get the free promo and pack my schedule and work my tail off and redo my family room, now that the windows are taken care of.

But something funny happened.

It happened last week, actually. I sat down, put the laptop on my lap (go figure. They tend to work better from that position, or else I have weird arms), and … opened a Word file I hadn’t touched for almost one entire calendar year. I believe the date on the file was April 14, 2014, actually.

Yes, your editor friend found her way back to her fiction.

Oh, I’ve done this off and on over the past couple of years. I’ll start to work on something, start to write — I have a whole other project I’ve played with, off and on, for awhile now — and then get distracted or overwhelmed or just plain worn out. Staring at a screen all day doesn’t exactly make me want to stare at a screen all evening. Playing with other people’s words doesn’t exactly inspire me to turn off that editor part of my brain and do the sort of crappy first draft that’s necessary for my own writing process. Running the kids from activity to activity doesn’t exactly… You get the idea. It’s a full life I lead. It’s a good life and I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.

But I’d be happier if I was writing, creating, letting characters run amok in my brain instead of it being full of the daily struggles of worrying about taking care of a house and two kids and myself and a business and all the other stresses of life. In that vein, I had it easier in the old incarnation of my life. And yes, the further away I get from the old incarnation, as I fix the problems I was left to discover, the more relieved I am that life took such a drastic turn.

I do miss writing. I miss my characters. And heck yeah, I miss those royalty statements. Even though I love editing with a passion I thought I’d never feel, it is an engagement with a book in a different way than when I’m engaging as the writer. The book I’m editing right now blows me away with its vision and creativity — as do they all, but this one in particular makes me shake my head in amazement at the quality of the ideas and the ability of the author to go to these places. There are many times a day when I sit back and envy and admire my authors and their storytelling abilities.

At some point, I’ll find that elusive balance between editing all day — the challenge of seeking out weaknesses and trying to build a better infrastructure, better word choice, better sentence structure, deeper characterization — and my own writing — that head rush of watching characters do what I wasn’t expecting, the lip-pursing moments when I fight for the right word or idea.

But for now, like so many of my clients, I struggle. And I remind them that I feel their pain even as I put them first. Not just because it pays my bills. But because it fulfills me in a way writing can’t.

Just as writing fulfills me in a way editing can’t.


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